“WE WEREN’T going to get through this gig without mentioning the motion picture,” said Charlie Reid, half of the ever-nondescript twin duo at the heart of one of Scotland’s most enduringly adored bands. “A Hard Day’s Night?” asked his brother Craig, a note of gruff self-deprecation in his voice.
Of course they’re talking about Sunshine on Leith, the recently-released film of the musical of the career they’ve been living for the last 30 years, and the cheer suggested the audience in Scotland’s newest live arena approve of it.
In one sense it was a decidedly understated show given the setting, with the band static on stage and surrounded by no more bells and whistles than a couple of video screens showing them in long-shot. An introduction on stage by comedian and celebrity fan Matt Lucas added a touch of star quality (Glasvegas and Roddy Hart had also supported), but otherwise this band are resolutely unassuming. That’s in stark contrast to the music they make, which at its best crests an infectiously joyous wave inspired by the heart-poundingly yearning quality of their voices in harmony.
Their most typically beloved songs were all chorused back at them in harmony, including I’m On My Way, Let’s Get Married, Sunshine On Leith and I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles), and the hope is that the film might have brought to light the lesser-known but equally wonderful Sky Takes the Soul and I Met You. Beyond the wry but upbeat singalongs, though, the best of their work understands the character of their nation like no other, including immigrant songs Letter From America and Scotland’s Story, and their sharp commentary on the state of the UK, Cap in Hand.